I have to agree with you Steve. I took my HS20 to a local balloon festival for a spot of "Night Glow & Concert " shooting at it was a woeful experience. I took about 350 shots of which I have about 50 that after PP may be worth keeping, and absolutely nothing of the balloons being lit up.
To make matters worse I was standing at one point alongside a Galaxy3 phone user that was getting shots that were 10 times better than anything I got. The worst part was the near absolute failure on the camera to focus on anything, no matter what settings were used.
This also worries me as I was intending to buy the HS50, which only has the same 1/2 inch sensor. Although its a new generation sensor I seriously doubt it will be able to do much better.
It once again reminded why I want the Pentax K30.
Love dat Fuji
Pentax K1000, Pentax sf7, Pentax zx-50